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10 Tips for starting a small business

1. Assess the Viability of Your Idea
Market Information From SizeUp
Peter Jones's Business Guide

2. Project Your Costs and Review Your Financing Options

Contact a Local SBDC Advisor
 
3. Develop a Plan
Get started with a free sample plan at Bplans.com

4. Choose a Business Structure
Review structure options with an attorney and choose the one that fits your business model the best. Consider the way structure affects costs, taxes, and potential liability and choose the one that gives you the right balance of legal protection and benefits. The most common options are: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC, and Corporation. For more information view this
Guideline.

5. Check Your Name
Is your business name available? LLCs and Corporations can check the Secretary of State's Business Name Search: HERE. Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships can look up the name in the County's Fictitious Business Name Search: HERE. Check to see if your domain name available for a web site: HERE.

6. Setup Your Record-Keeping Systems
Look up accounting and project management software and create a new bank account to keep personal and business accounts separate.

7. Understand Tax Obligations and Opportunities
Tax agencies provide publications, videos, and workshops that will help you understand your tax obligations. There are also many tax opportunities that provide businesses credits. For more information see HERE.

8. Limit Your Risk and Protect your Investments
Transfer major risks to insurance companies when feasible. Review your business insurance options and assess the potential liabilities that may affect your business. Make sure to check your warranties and maintain accurate records by monitoring your accounts receivables and managing cash flow effectively.

9. Look Before You Lease
If you're starting a new business or looking to expand, it's important to find the right location to meet your needs.  To see a checklist of questions to ask click HERE.

10. Target and Market
Review your potential customers and research how to market towards them. Many small businesses utilize social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp) to reach their customers. Focus on building a brand for your business that appeals to your customers and to provide quality content (high resolution images and effective web site design).

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